Datastream Cowboy

IRL Name: 
Richard Pryce

Datastream Cowboy was a young UK hacker who became notorious for his persistent cracking of MILNET sites in the US. Only 16 at the time, Datastream Cowboy used C5 telephone systems in overseas countries to phonephreak his way onto the Internet. Once there he would circle the globe many times before finally attacking his targets.

By March 1994, the American military, fearing that they were under an "InfoWar" attack from a foreign power, were disconcerted when they found that Datastream Cowboy was logging in from an Italian site in Rome and began their investigation in earnest.

Setting up a special Air Force Office of Investigations (AFOSI) task force of computer specialists, Datastream Cowboy's movements were tracked over several weeks until finally an informant posing as a hacker was given Datastream Cowboy's phone number, possibly so he could log onto Datastream Cowboy's BBS, The Sanctum of Inner Knowledge.

AFOSI officials tracked the number back to a house in North London and in May 1994 police and officials raided the house and arrested Datastream Cowboy. To their surprise, instead of finding a top international espionage ring, the police found Richard Pryce, a 16-year-old student who was hacking in the spirit of exploration, but who just happened to enjoy cracking MILNET sites, rather than the easier EDU sites. Datastream Cowboy was eventually charged with 12 offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, and in 1996 was found guilty and fined £1,200.


British music student


Cried when he got arrested